Welcome to The Brit List 2013, our new annual rundown of the most exciting emerging talents in the country. Whether they’re actors, chefs or coffee brewers, these are the men making life that little bit more interesting
(Images: Jay Brooks @ Shoot Group/Justin Metz/Getty/Action/PA/Rex/Mike Blackett/Uzo Oleh/BSkyB/Raj Curry/Luke Montgomery/Asher Herr/Alex Franco/Byldil Sukan/Thomas Bowles/Nikolaj Didriksen/Samuel Bradley)
Twelve months ago, James Long won the first Fashion Forward funding for menswear in the British Fashion Council’s history. It seems this graduate of the Royal College Of Art best known for his bold approach, has truly broken through. Two weeks before taking his celebrated collections to Japan, he won’t bow to pressure: “The world’s going to look at this and it’s either good or bad, isn’t it? Luckily, it’s usually good.”
Former T4 presenter Best has become very interesting indeed to us. This is because he’s also the director of a social media venture called Audiosplitter – summed up by him as: “Like Pinterest, only for music.” But then he’s clearly a man with his finger on the pulse… “I collect ShortList religiously, so making the Brit List has inflated my ego no end.”
She’s stolen the show in some of the best TV of the past year (Utopia, Hunderby), but we’re expecting even bigger things after Roach’s Meryl Streep-matching turn in The Iron Lady. Currently playing the put-upon Mrs Potts in One Chance, she’ll be a superstar as long as she can avoid working with animals: “Hunderby’s parrot and I did not get on. I couldn’t act with it in the room. They had to get a fake one.”
Google ‘Joe Cole’ and it’s likely you will be looking at the West Ham midfielder and not Peaky Blinders’ youngest hard-nut. For now. Having made a big impression as a Fifties fascist in The Hour, he went on to have a blinder in Blinders’ criminal underworld (circa 1919), and next is Beatnik period film The Falling. Now Joe’s in training for Slap, playing a cross-dressing boxer. The boy’s got range.
Playing Northern Ireland’s premier serial killer can have its advantages. Following his startlingly electric performance in the BBC’s disturbing 2013 drama The Fall, Hollywood, California, is taking a serious interest in this product of Holywood, County Down. The once seriously in-demand model is now a seriously in-demand actor. And there’s more to come. Following in fellow Irishman and acting idol Michael Fassbender’s footsteps, he’s travelling back to the 1680s for the bold and bloody follow-up to The Devil’s Whore, New Worlds (alongside Freya Mavor and fellow Brit Lister Joe Dempsie). Then he’s headed home to “f*cking freezing” Belfast for a winter filming The Fall, but the most high-profile role he’s landed is undoubtedly the lead in the much-hyped sex-fest Fifty Shades Of Grey. So lock up your girlfriends – he’s going to be making sociopaths sexy for a long time.
Liverpudlian David White, 39, is Britain’s answer to modern Pop Art king Andy Warhol, and it’s time he’s acknowledged as such. “A tightrope walk between chaos and order, very explosive and very dynamic” is how he explains his expressive paintings, wryly adding, “like a cow splat on a white sheet of paper.” He studied fine art and went on to invent Sneaker Art in the Noughties; he’s not one for razzmatazz but he’s holding his first LA exhibition in May.
A No1 album, sold-out US shows, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers; as sibling accomplishment goes, the work of Guy and Howard Lawrence safely trumps any Lego structures you and your brother may have knocked up. Their Mercury-nominated debut Settle, with its updated two-step, might be the definitive record of the year. That it was concocted by two lads from Surrey only adds to its charm. Well, that and the lack of will.i.am.
Goldierocks (real name Sam Hall) splits her time between DJ jaunts in far-flung locations such as Berlin, Moscow and Sao Paulo, and documentary-making in areas of crisis, such as Syrian refugee camps in Jordan: “I’m on a mission to set up a community radio station there.” Her British Council-funded weekly radio showcase (The Selector) is already reaching a global audience.
Aside from enduring shouts of “Oi, Pukey” – a throwback to his debut in This Is England – 23-year-old O’Connell has been busy. Following accolades for his turn in Starred Up, he was hand-picked by Angelina Jolie to star in military biopic Unbroken which she’s directing. “I went to a school where drama was compulsory – and it was one of the two GCSEs I left with,” he shrugged to ShortList.
Inventors talk fast – especially rising whizz kid Lawton. “I’m really geeky with hi-tech visualisation tools, but in the real world I love storytelling.” He is so passionate about the two things that he’s dedicated the past 10 years laying the groundwork for Bubblescope, a lens that takes 360-degree pictures and videos, and is the most exciting thing you’ll hook up to your smartphone all year.
For followers of Yorkshire it will feel like Joe Root has been around forever. But his year peaked – as it always should – with the Ashes. Root’s 180 in the second Test was not just the team’s best batting performance of the series, it was a masterclass that should be shown to all young players. He’ll celebrate his 23rd birthday on 30 December in Australia for the next Ashes series, showing them who’s boss. Again.
Erskine is currently juggling a Times Magazine column, her next book, a new show and a side-line in reading up on the occult (yes, really). And that’s just how she likes it. “Everything I set my mind to, I like to crack on and do.” One thing she still hasn’t achieved is a TV show which shows off her true passions. “The side of the industry I’m in is in pop-ups and events – the nutty side of the industry. I’d like a show that shows off my day job.”
Neil & Rob Gibbons
First enlisted to work on Steve Coogan’s live show four years ago, the 34-year-old comedy writing twins have been at the heart of the work – internet shorts, specials, biography, film – that has signalled the North Norfolk broadcaster’s recent revival. With upcoming work on Veep and a comedy film set in 17th-century Suffolk, expect them to get bigger and funnier.
You might note that Will Poulter, now 20, and of surprising stature, cannot be the same boy who just six years ago played a 12-year-old child in Son Of Rambow. But he is, and he did, and it set him up well. This year he’s starred alongside Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in con-comedy We’re The Millers, while in 2014 he has fantasy epic The Maze Runner and indie romance Kids In Love with model of the moment, Cara Delevingne. He’s going to be massive.
Dr Chris Van Tulleken
Along with twin brother Xand, Chris is making waves with his truth-telling, bullsh*t-free health advice. Willing to go the extra mile in TV shows such as Medicine Men Go Wild, he’s someone who is both an expert and a bit of a nutter. A powerful combination.
Rather than running, Gemili spent his childhood and teens with football clubs (he told ShortList it is his fallback career), so it’s even more remarkable the 20-year-old ran a 19.98 in the 200m in August to become the second fastest Briton over that distance, ever. Part-Iranian, part-Moroccan, all-British legend-in-the-making.
Bagging a seven-book deal and the ‘Next JK Rowling’ tag before she’d even so much as blotted the ink dry on her debut, 21-year-old novelist Shannon has well and truly captured the Harry Potter and Angels & Demons hordes with The Bone Season. A cyber-steam-punk-sci-fi-fantasy, it is this year’s must-read blockbuster debut.
Stage actor, poet, model, folk star – Flynn is a 21st- century renaissance man. Having just wrapped up a UK tour with his folk group, the former Burberry model is about to make his Hollywood debut alongside Anne Hathaway in Song One. “Global stardom sounds nice,” he says, “but given Britain’s fantastic history of innovation in the arts, nothing beats domestic recognition, so thank you.”
This year, a determined Brit with quiet talent was hand-picked by Carlos Ancelotti to join him at Real Madrid. And we don’t mean Gareth Bale. The 41-year-old Clement so impressed Ancelotti when they were both at Chelsea that the superstar manager asked Clement to join him at Paris St Germain and now at the Bernabeu. He’s now No2 at arguably the world’s No1 club. The ultimate British sporting hero the world knows next to nothing about.
Crime writer Mackay, 31, has had a huge 2013, releasing the first two books of his Glasgow Trilogy (The Necessary Death Of Lewis Winter and How A Gunman Says Goodbye), with the final part arriving in January, to praise from writers such as Lee Child and Mark Billingham, and picking up Scottish Crime Book Of The Year.
The former Fat Duck chef, 26, has blazed a trail of innovation and controversy on his way to being labelled one of the most exciting talents in cooking – from culinary equipment controlled by iPhones to his ‘No Rules’ events where he creates a menu from items guests bring. On being told he’d made our Brit List, he tell us, “I’m very satisfied that the sacrifices, such as 120-hour weeks, are worth it.”
Having won the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award at this year’s Fringe with her seventh acclaimed show ‘A Bic For Her’, feminist stand-up Christie has well and truly broken out in 2013. Over the next few months she’ll continue to take down the sexist establishment with her Guardian column, and prepare material for her Radio 4 show Bridget Christie’s Mind The Gap (back in March).
Composer of two of the most memorable tracks on the acclaimed soundtrack for top-down violence simulator Hotline Miami, he’s also the sole developer of 2D horror adventure Lone Survivor. Up next: more music for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and New Game Plus, a 4-player co-op game he elevator-pitches as “Zelda meets Demon’s Souls”. An obscenely talented man.
The 23-year old is currently ‘Scotch bonnet’ on the scale of one to hot. You’ll be seeing him very soon as D’Artagnan in the BBC’s Musketeers – but he’s also poised to break Hollywood thanks to a starring role opposite John Hurt and Tilda Swinton in sci-fi epic, Snowpiercer. Maybe he’s from a famous acting dynasty? “Um, no,” he says, “My dad owns a hair salon called Image International in Spalding.”
It’s been a winning year for 26-year-old chef Sellers, with the opening of his first restaurant, Story, in a (now very welcoming) former London public toilet. And it’s not just critics and the lucky normals who’ve managed to get a table who have been raving about fairytale delights such as Three Bears Porridge; Story garnered a Michelin star after just four months. Top marks for the Nottinghamshire boy who got his big break in the kitchen as a pot washer after he found himself expelled from school.
The founder and chief executive of moo.com, the egalitarian print business that has won countless awards, Moross has been a leading light of the start-up scene. A pioneer of game-changing tech and design, he’s a fine ambassador for the burgeoning new British business scene.
Fast becoming the British Lena Dunham, Him & Her star Solemani’s stock is on the rise Stateside, too. After starring in Bad Education and The Wrong Mans, her self-penned sitcom has earned a US pilot, and with a Funny Or Die clip (about childbirth and ball-busting) under her belt, it won’t be long until she guests on Girls herself.
“Like rats in London, you’re never 10ft away from a British actor who’s been in Game Of Thrones,” chuckles Dempsie. While not the most attractive of analogies, it certainly hints at the HBO show’s almighty promotion of homegrown talent, including, of course, 26-year-old Dempsie. Forthcoming projects include a sequel to Gareth Edwards’ Monsters, and New World, a Channel 4 drama he just shot in Romania, which is where he found out he’d made the Brit List. “I was halfway up a mountain and staying in a creepy hotel when I got the call, but I was nonetheless delighted.”
A man with a slew of hits to his name, including kids show Horrible Histories and comedy noir The Wrong Mans is about to be very busy with Sky fantasy sitcom Yonderland and big-screen Shakespeare biopic Bill. His early work on children’s TV means he’s used to acclaim. “A friend did once call me ‘Elvis for kids’.”
Even under the androgyny of ‘Lou’, the tailor-trained designer makes no secret of being one of the few female designers of men’s clothes: “I’m completely at home, probably more at home than some of the men.” Following a stint designing in Milan, Dalton returned home to the country she believes embraces creativity more than any to set up her own self-funded brand.
When we told Ayoade that he’d made the Brit List, his response, and most of what came after, delved deep into his consciousness. “That’s good news. Thank you. Am I next to the man who invented the Dyson?” He isn’t new to us as an actor, but he makes the list for his work as the most adventurous new British director around. He’s followed up the Godard-gone-pop Submarine with the Dostoevsky-gone-pop The Double, starring Jesse Eisenberg. And, of course, 2014 will see him pen another film, a process he calls a “slow boil of anxiety”.
If not for a gruesome leg break three years ago, Everton star Barkley may have been too established to make this list now. The freak injury paused a career that has exploded into life in the Premier League this year with a dominant performance for Everton in the first game of the season. He made his England debut in September (he was also eligible to play for Nigeria – their loss) and even though he’ll only be 20 next summer, we wouldn’t bet against him being in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad. He’s got ‘100 caps’ written all over him.
Sophie Kennedy Clark
She’s been David Tennant’s daughter in Single Father, but Kennedy Clark is about to grow up quickly with two major film roles: as the young version of Judi Dench in Philomena and as ‘B’ in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. “Lars’s work takes taboos and challenges why we think they’re controversial.” And if it doesn’t go down well? She told ShortList: “I’d like to be a carpenter.”
The man behind Prufrock Coffee on London’s Leather Lane has built a reputation for being at the forefront of the quality-coffee revolution currently sweeping the UK. After winning World Barista Champion in 2009, he set up the laboratory-like Prufrock with its syphons and Chemex pots, and the shop is now leading the way in forward-thinking brewing techniques and knocking out cup after cup of consistently high-quality coffee (its filter is among the best in the UK), as well as training the baristas of the future.
Probably the most exciting young musician in the country, the 19-year-old singer-songwriter has been called the new Dylan, and has recently ‘gone electric’ with recent single What Doesn’t Kill You. He’s used to achieving things: “I won the school’s talent competition. Tin of Quality Street, pretty decent.”
Bradley Cummings & Gareth Williams
Newport is currently only famous for Goldie Lookin Chain and, er, its Transporter Bridge. But brothers-in-law Cummings and Williams are putting it on the map for another reason: craft beer. The pair launched Tiny Rebel last year, and cleaned up with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place beers at this year’s Camra Welsh Beer Festival and aim to spread beyond the Principality.
ShortList’s editor-at-large made an impact with his first novel Bed, currently in production with Warp Films/Channel 4. Second book Mobile Library willl arrive in 2014, and he is developing a comedy drama for TV with Ridley Scott’s company as well as premiering his short film Ending at Sundance. Keep close tabs on his darkly comic work.
Thomas’s packed filmography for 2013 features five credits, including some tuneful roles in Sunshine On Leith and Northern Soul. “I’d like a really versatile career,” she says. “I’d love to play the lead in Shakespeare, work with Steve McQueen and do a period drama.” So, Steve, if you’re thinking of doing a version of Twelfth Night set in the 1820s, you know who to call.
He started the year by taking the national 60m indoor title and then won silver in the European Championship. But what really turned heads was his incredible 9.91-second 100m run on 13 July. He is the second fastest man in British history behind Linford Christie’s 9.87. A confident James told us his future plans: “Olympic medalist in 2016 and the British record holder in the 100m.” Go on, son.
Having spent a decade designing for women, two years ago Jonathan Saunders decided to help the boys out by launching a range for us, too. The results were groundbreaking, his work both challenging and authoritative. His spring/summer 2014 collection is a mix of sharp suits and rubberised (yes, rubberised) shirts in acid colours.
“My agent and my mum are always telling me to take it one step at a time,” says Vanderham. “I’m there going, ‘Give me everything, give me the Oscar role – now!’” She may not have to wait long, if performances in Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing On The Edge and opposite Steve Coogan in What Maisie Knew are anything to go by.